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Letters: Albany's 2012 agenda

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, left, and Assembly

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, left, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Credit: TIMES UNION/SKIP DICKSTEIN

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's recent signing of a law creating benefit corporations is a significant event ["A union challenge," News, Jan. 19]. These corporations exist in several other states, offering entrepreneurs and investors opportunities to create for-profit and nonprofit projects that not only benefit their shareholders but society as well.

The law gives corporations a defense against shareholders interested only in profits, who would encourage decisions that harm the environment, workers and the community. Benefit corporations also allow shareholders and entrepreneurs to hold chief executives accountable for favoring profits over socially beneficial choices.

Paul Arfin, Hauppauge

Editor's note: The writer is chairman of the Long Island Chapter of the Social Enterprise Alliance, a membership organization.

In 2009 the New York State Legislature approved an important law that authorized voters to petition for a public vote on government consolidation ["Sides debate dissolving sanitation district," News, Jan. 16]. I am curious: Has the new law resulted in consolidation of any government entity in New York State? How many local governments have consolidated? Is the law a success or big disappointment?

The law, when it was first enacted, was considered to be a potential game-changer -- a tool to reorganize and streamline government. New York State has more layers of government than any other state. In my own county of Westchester, the law seems to have been a failure. No consolidations have resulted.

The law is flawed in two ways. First, the governing bodies of the entities contemplating the consolidation are required to set the date of the voter-initiated referendum and to develop a consolidation plan. There is a weakness here, in that the law hands control of these decisions to the very governing bodies that may wish to maintain the status quo.

In addition, the law should be expanded to authorize voters to petition for the consolidation of county governments, not only municipal governments. The counties are the most invisible levels of government in New York and have the least public support.

Paul Feiner, Greenburgh

Editor's note: The writer is the Greenburgh town supervisor.

Regarding "Sweet scenario with state aid" [Business, Jan. 2], there are many federal and state programs, such as the one offered to Tate's Bake Shop in East Moriches, that can benefit businesses of all sizes. As a tax and business advisory firm, we find that many businesses are unaware of these programs, and many tax credits and refunds are either not applied for or wasted.

Many Long Island businesses are likely to benefit from federal research and development programs, for example, which are not all linked to lab coats or test tubes. And since 2010, New York State has expanded and modified the Excelsior Program, which provides refundable credits over 10 years.

Carolyn Mazzenga, Melville

Editor's note: The writer is the partner-in-charge for Marcum LLP's Long Island region.

Seniors already struggling to pay for their prescription medication know too well how much more difficult things will be now that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature made cuts to Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage ["EPIC Information Meeting," Seniors, Jan. 15]. Cutting this program only makes an already bad situation worse.

Politicians seem to be ignoring the fact that since EPIC was partnered with Medicare Part D six years ago, the state has saved more than $339 million. Ignoring such a significant savings and shifting more costs to the state's elderly is coldhearted.

The legislature should remedy this mistake and return the program to what it previously was.

Peter Hanson, Nesconset

Editor's note: The writer is a lobbyist for AARP.